It was a Marine major's dream. In early September, 1983, I'd had a little more than three months working in Lebanon when my boss at the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Lieutenant Colonel Jioji Konrote of Fiji, gave me the best order I'd ever received: "Chuck, from this moment on, I want you to do exactly as you please."
I responded as any Marine would to this broad mission order: "Aye, aye, Sir, I'm on my way." Two days later, however, I was hustling to respond to a different instruction: "Major Armstrong, the Israelis are withdrawing from the Chouf. We need you in Naqoura."
A few weeks later, a U.S. Army Special Forces officer and I compared notes about the shift in local forces. What was going on? Here were the dots we tried to connect: